I was browsing social media, as I usually do most days, and I came across this video of Oprah interviewing Trevor Noah for some show of hers or another. If you don’t know who Trevor Noah is, he’s a late night news comedian from South Africa. I personally find him quite funny but also very intelligent. So I was listening to this interview and he gushed about his mother and how she groomed him to be the man he is today. Then Oprah asked him about how he feels he wants to be portrayed to the world through sharing the news cause his whole goal is to share the news in a fun, sometimes serious (depending on the topic) way. He said something that really resonated it with me and I kind of want to break it down with my thoughts and get some of your input in return.
The first thing he said was:
Human beings no longer see human beings on the other side of discussion… and it’s tough to say that one side should be empathetic to the other side when the other side doesn’t see them as human beings either.
First off, I thought this was quite an interesting thing to say because it definitely got me thinking about the way in which I engage in discussion with other people and how I normally react depending on the topic. I can’t necessarily say that I disregard what or how another individual says or thinks because I consider myself every open minded but I can admit I feel a sense of pause when it comes to certain topics. Obviously, this is natural because we all have our strong views, morals, ethics on certain topics especially when we’re crazy passionate about them. But I wonder if I’ve ever made someone feel less than human because I was driving my passionate vision on to them.
It made me think about this author/reader/publishing debacle that’s currently trending, at least on my Twitter. I won’t name names but basically there are authors out there who participate in manipulating readers into sympathizing or empathizing with whatever is going on in their life to the point that they walk a fine line of receiving things they didn’t necessarily earn. I know that kind of sounds like a jumble but ultimately it’s kind of equivalent to a person freely transferring all the kindness and support inside of them to an individual without the expectation of reciprocity but end up being used in the end. This kind of thing makes me wonder when that individual stopped seeing you as that generous human being and into something less inferior.
The other thing he said that resonated was:
If your character shifts because of who’s in power, was it your character to begin with?
In regards to his quote he’s relating it to politics but when I heard that, the two words I froze on was “character” and “shifts”. I was thinking about this for the rest of the day and on the drive home I asked my husband, “how do you define your character?” I explained to him the context in which I heard this and he said to me that he believes people’s characters fluctuate based on perspective and experience but at an individual’s core, it usually stays the same.
I have to agree in that respect. I think character is definitely fluid. I mean the word “characteristics” is derived from the world character itself. I tried to think of it like a character in a book where usually you have a hero, villain, or anti-hero. You go into it knowing what to expect and hope that the characters stay true to themselves. If they’re introduced as douchebags, I hope they stay that way throughout or die (cause I’m evil). Do I like happily ever afters? Sure. But I don’t want all my books and movies to be that way. When it comes to real life however, my hopes are completely opposite. The character I meet in the world, I hope they stay consistent with their views towards me. I realize, again that character is fluid so we are bound to change here and there but I guess I like to surround myself with characters with open wide minds, and I don’t mean about their personal lives, because that comes with time, but just in general.
I don’t set out to change a person’s character because I disagree with something they say or how they view the world but I hope that I could plant one tiny little seed in their mind that could maybe, just maybe, if not shift their views towards the middle a bit but at least get them thinking about someone or something other than themselves. Is that wrong? Do you think that goes back to not seeing the other as a human being? It’s quite interesting how these concepts are intertwined.
Like with most subjects, I could go on and on and on about what I’m thinking but we’re coming up on 860 words and I want to know what you all think. I’ll link to the Youtube clip below were I copied pasta’d the quotes if you’re interested in watching it. Again, he relates it to politics but I thought beyond that scope. Hit me with it in the comments below!